Origin Bank’s Laura Greer and Larry Ratzlaff present a check to Fondren Renaissance’s Jim Wilkirson and St. Dominic’s Bill Scruggs for the Phoenix Initiative. Also accepting the check are St. Dominic’s Deidre Bell, sildenafil Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth and Calude Harbarger.

When Bill Scruggs took on a role in the corporate office of St. Dominic’s Health Services in 2007, information pills then corporate vice-president Barry Plunkett asked him to go for a ride.

“I thought maybe he was going to tell me he was sick,” Scruggs surmised.

As it turns out, Plunkett was handing Scruggs the reigns to the Phoenix Initiative, a façade housing grant program began two years earlier through the generous donation of St. Dominic’s and a partnership with Fondren Renaissance Foundation.

And what a ride it’s been.

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Michelle Obama

55,000 people are expected to attend Jackson State University‘s commencement on Saturday, a ticketed, not “general admission” event. First Lady Michelle Obama will be the featured speaker for the ceremony that begins at 3pm at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.

As with any visitor of Mrs. Obama’s caliber, major traffic delays will begin on Saturday as early as 9am. (No streets will be affected on Friday).

Jackson Police Department District Commander James McGowan said by phone Lakeland Drive should not be affected but the interstate, from the airport to Woodrow Wilson (on to West Street) will be. Streets immediately surrounding the stadium will be blocked. This, he says, will not affect the streets of the historic Fondren business district. “If you have a business, you should have a captive audience to sell to Saturday as cars will be all over the neighborhood.”

One place they will NOT be allowed to park is Woodrow Wilson. McGowan says, “Vehicles will be towed if left parked along this route.”

It is believed the First Lady will speak shortly after 3pm and leave the stadium around 4pm. Street closures from earlier in the day will once again occur. Expect heavy traffic congestion most of Saturday.

“In this area, no one should expect to get anywhere in any hurry on Saturday, period,” he noted.

A University of Mississippi Medical spokesman says hospital employees are advised to anticipate delays. “We don’t know how bad (delays) will be but we’re planning as best as we can. We are opening extra lots on campus to allow to them to park here instead of at the stadium.”

They also advise calling 911 in an emergency. “Persons experiencing a condition such as a heart attack, a severe laceration or other potentially life-threatening condition or obstetrical emergency on Saturday should not attempt to reach any of the three hospital emergency departments in a private vehicle if at all possible.”

neighborhood-newsWelcome to your monthly look at what’s been happening and what’s upcoming in the neighborhood. It is our hope that this email will serve as a jumping off point for you to engage with us if you have questions or wish to help support the work we do on behalf of the neighborhood everyday.

Monthly Happy Hour   

Stop by our office (Fondren Corner 1st floor across from Mosaic) on Tuesday April 19 from 5pm – 6:30pm for a “happy hour” – OPEN TO ALL MERCHANTS, RESIDENTS and FONDREN ORGANIZATIONS. This is your opportunity to ask questions related to neighborhood projects, zoning, parking, events, safety or other concerns. There is no agenda and all are welcome.

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Work by Williams-Cook and Humphrey

Fondren Renaissance has announced the first installment of this year’s 2016 Four Seasons of The Cedars Visual and Performing Arts Series.

Opened March 3, price “Spring” features painters Kennith Humphrey and Ginger Williams-Cook.

Humphrey, a Vicksburg native, has gained national  and international recognition and in the process realized his dream of being a professional painter. His work depicts African American culture such as jazz  and blues  and agriculture in the Delta. Humphrey and his paintings have acquired nation wide fame as well as interest from Portugal and France. Several of his paintings hang in the American Embasy in Portugal.

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A press conference was held at Spann Elementary recently to announce the Barbara Bush Foundation Teen Trendsetter literacy program. The current program, launched in the fall of 2015, involves ten Jackson public high schools paired with ten Jackson public elementary schools along with one pilot program – the first of its kind in the nation – that combines the private school sector with the public school sector, specifically Jackson Academy with Spann Elementary.

The press conference highlighted National Literacy Month and lauded the success of the overall program with special recognition given to Spann and its mentors, Murrah High School and Jackson Academy.

Its tie to Fondren is a royal one.

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A Fondrenite quietly working behind the scenes this past year has officially come into the fold as the newest member of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation staff.

Jackson native Angie Noble has accepted the title of Special Projects Director for the non-profit, a role she has served in part-time since the late Mary Jo McAnally, FRF’s associate director, took ill in late 2014.

Noble is a Belhaven University graduate who later went on to become a paralegal. After marrying in 1996 and moving back to Jackson prior to the birth of her first child in 1998, she says the years she spent as a stay-at-home mom ultimately lead to where she is today.

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Wilkirson (center) at a recent luncheon for the Phoenix Initiative

Once a stagnant neighborhood without direction, unhealthy Fondren has blossomed into a vital and thriving model for development in the capital city.

Without a doubt, pharmacy the Fondren we know now would not be the neighborhood it is today without the hard work and dedication of Fondren Renaissance Foundation. FRF Executive Director Jim Wilkirson explains the role the non-profit organization plays in building a vibrant community.

What does Fondren Renaissance Foundation do anyway?

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The Lowery Family Farm is part of The Resting Place, a special events venue in Flora.

We are excited to announce a special “pop-up” for the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Lowery Family Farm of Flora will offer fresh-cut Fraser Fir trees the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. The temporary lot will be set up in the Rankin Interiors parking lot at 3111 North State Street.

While we were hoping to get this as part of Fondren Unwrapped, it was early – by a week – for the Christmas tree season. After talking with Judith Lowery, we decided on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

The lot will offer fifty trees on Friday, November 27 from 10am to 6pm and and Saturday, November 28 from 9am to 5pm. Hopefully, this will be an annual event and extend throughout the Christmas season next year.

Tree sizes range from five to six feet to seven to eight feet, with prices ranging from $55 to $70. The Lowerys will offer bundling and tree loading as part of their services. And, if you don’t see a tree that meets your need, you can always special order from their Flora farm.

Judith Lowery loves Fondren and was excited we contacted her to bring the trees to the neighborhood. We’re hoping to create another reason to get out and shop in Fondren, to stay here and support local.



Surrounded by her loving family, mind Mary Jo McAnally died at home November 3, 2015, in Jackson, MS.

Mary Jo was born on July 20,1941, in Blytheville, Arkansas, to Lucille and Herman Oden. Upon graduation from high school, she chose to attend the University of Mississippi where her bigger-than-life personality soon charmed all those who knew her. At Ole Miss, Mary Jo sparkled as a feature twirler in the Pride of Mississippi Marching Band and as a member of Tau Beta Sigma. She pledged Tri Delta sorority, bringing honor to that group as she was selected Campus Cutie, Campus Favorite, runner up to Miss University, and Miss Blytheville.

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We’ve never kicked off the holidays exactly like this before.

On November 19 from 5-8pm, BankPlus will present Fondren Unwrapped, the neighborhood’s annual holiday open house. But with an expansive list of themed activities surrounding the night, Unwrapped may never be the same again.

“It truly is about our merchants and restaurants inviting folks in to shop and dine,” says FRF Executive Director Jim Wilkirson. “But we wanted to add a few things to entice people to come out and enjoy the neighborhood even more.”

A few? Where to start….

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© 2017, Fondren Renaissance Foundation